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thepeoplesrecord:

Kenyan people victoriously pressure legislators to agree to lower pay after outcry against unfair self-promoting politicians
June 12, 2013

Kenyan legislators have agreed to lower salaries, a government commission said Wednesday, after weeks of demanding higher pay which sparked off public outcry and protests. The Salaries and Remuneration Commission said they have agreed with parliament that its members will get around $75,000 and not the around $120,000 a year salary that legislators of the previous parliament earned.

The legislators also will get a one-off $59,000 car grant to buy a vehicle of their choice and can claim mileage under the local Automobile Association rates. According to a statement from the salaries commission, the agreement was reached Monday.

Average income in Kenya is about $1,800 a year, which has fueled rage over the legislators’ salaries.

On Tuesday, activists spilled cow blood outside parliament buildings, calling members of parliament or MPs, MPigs and branding parliament “a piggy bank.”

Activists celebrated the agreement between parliament and the salaries commission.

“It’s people power. The people have won,” said activist Boniface Mwangi who has organized protests over the pay dispute. “This battle was a fight between the 349 legislators and the 42 million Kenyans and the Kenyans won,” Mwangi said. “I don’t think they are going to try and raise their salaries again.”

The legislators, who were elected on March 4, had threatened in April to disband the salaries commission for reducing their salaries. Last month, MPs voted to overturn a directive that reduced their pay, hoping it would force the government to pay the higher salaries earned by the previous parliament whose term ended in January.

But the salaries commission warned government officials not to pay the higher salaries saying it was illegal, and that anyone who authorized the payment could be charged with abuse of office.

Kenya adopted a new constitution in 2010 that intended to remove parliament’s powers to set their own pay, instead giving the remuneration commission the power to determine salaries for all public servants. Earlier this year, the commission cut the president’s annual pay from around $340,000 to $185,000.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission has argued that although Kenya was among the world’s poorer economies, its legislators were earning more than those in France.

Many Kenyans see their legislators as lazy and greedy in a country where hundreds of thousands live in slums. Legislators often argue that they need high salaries to give hand-outs to poor constituents for school fees and hospital bills.

The efforts by the members of parliament to raise their salaries sparked public protests including one last month in which pigs were released outside parliament.

In January, Mwangi organized the burning of 221 coffins outside parliament to protest the attempt by the MPs to give themselves a bonus at the end of their term.

The decision to reduce the pay for legislators came after a public outcry when the previous parliament attempted to raise their salaries to $175,000 annually and award themselves a $110,000 bonus at the end of their terms.

The salaries commission says Kenya can’t afford the bill for government salaries, especially since parliament expanded from 222 to 349 members in March, and new positions of 67 senators and 47 governors and their staff were created.

When newly elected President Uhuru Kenyatta opened parliament in mid-April, he told legislators that the bill for government salaries came to 12 percent of GDP, above the internationally accepted level of 7 percent. Kenyatta said 50 percent of revenue collected by government went to pay government salaries.

Kenyatta urged the MPs to grow the economy before they demand higher salaries.

Source

(via danielextra)

Two employees at a Whole Foods Market store in Albuquerque say they were suspended last month after complaining about being told they couldn’t speak Spanish to each other while on the job.

Bryan Baldizan told The Associated Press he and a female employee were suspended for a day after they wrote a letter following a meeting with a manager who told them Spanish was not allowed during work hours.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Baldizan, who works in the store’s food preparation department. “All we did was say we didn’t believe the policy was fair. We only talk Spanish to each other about personal stuff, not work.”

He said Whole Foods officials told them about company policy and issued the suspensions.

Ben Friedland, Whole Foods Market Rocky Mountain Region Executive Marketing Coordinator, said the Austin, Texas-based company believes in “having a uniform form of communication” for a safe working environment.

“Therefore, our policy states that all English speaking Team Members must speak English to customers and other Team Members while on the clock,” Friedland said in a statement.

“Team Members are free to speak any language they would like during their breaks, meal periods and before and after work.”

Friedland said the policy doesn’t prevent employees from speaking Spanish to customers who don’t speaking English nor does it prevent them from speaking Spanish if all “parties present agree that a different language is their preferred form of communication.”

Whole Foods Market spokeswoman Libba Letton told the AP that in addition to safety reasons, the policy is in place so employees who don’t speak Spanish don’t feel uncomfortable.

Lower income for all women, particularly those of color, means less money to support their families with necessities such as housing, food, education, and health care. Closing the pay gap is even more important for women of color who are more likely than their white counterparts to be breadwinners.

The long-term wage gap hurts families of color tremendously, forcing families to choose between putting food on the table or saving for a college education and retirement. On average, an African American woman working full time loses the equivalent of 118 weeks of food each year due to the wage gap. A Latina loses 154 weeks’ worth of food. The stubbornly persistent gender-based wage gap adds up substantially over the lifetime of a woman’s career. For women of color the loss of savings over a 30-hour-a-week to a 40-hour-a-week work lifespan is significant. A woman of color will have to live on one-third to 45 percent less than a white man based on the average benefits that are afforded through Social Security and pension plans. Research shows that a woman’s average lifetime earnings are more than $434,000 less than a comparable male counterpart over a 35-year working life.

Analysis done in 2012 by the Center for American Progress illustrates that the money lost over the course of a working woman’s lifetime could do one of the following:

—Feed a family of four for 37 years
—Pay for seven four-year degrees at a public university
—Buy two homes
—Purchase 14 new cars

Simply be saved for retirement and used to boost her quality of life when she leaves the workforce

Lifetime earnings are even lower for women of color because they face higher levels of unemployment and poverty rates. In March 2013 unemployment rates of black [women] and Latinas were significantly higher than their white counterparts at 12.2 percent and 9.3 percent respectively compared to white women at 6.1 percent. According to the National Women’s Law Center, poverty rates among women, particularly women of color, remain historically high and unchanged in the last year. The poverty rate among women was 14.6 percent in 2011—the highest in the last 18 years. For black women and Latinas that same year, the poverty rate was 25.9 percent and 23.9 percent, respectively.

Sophia Kerby, “How Pay Inequity Hurts Women Of Color,” Black Politics On The Web 4/9/13

Academia may not be a traditional bureaucracy but we forget that public colleges are embedded in state governments, making them more like the public sector is some ways than the private sector. That is particularly true when you account for the fact that many black PhDs end up working in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, many of which are part of state college systems. It is not totally beyond the realm of possibility then that black students should engage with some sectors of higher education similarly to how we have engaged the Post Office. That is to say, credentialism is rewarded and, thus, we should pursue it.

The nature of the rewards, however, seems to be what trips up a lot of this advice.

And that is rooted in some fundamental, unexamined privilege.

It is difficult to be embedded in higher education today, particularly if you study it, and not be acutely aware that academic labor is changing and likely not for the better. Adjunct labor conditions are pretty deplorable: low pay, long hours, little prestige, no mobility, etc. When we are in that we can forget that our crappy jobs can be someone else’s upward mobility.

I suspect part of our not understanding this is ideological. To recognize that crappy is relative is to undermine our own fragile, tenuous class consciousness. It’s an old problem. Unions had similar issues as they tried to bring black, brown and white labors together through their shared position in the class structure. The problems arise when your shared position isn’t exactly shared. Focusing so narrowly on class to the exclusion of structural racial projects can put you in this quagmire. Black poverty is not the same as white poverty. That’s not the fault of white poor people but is a function of a complicated mix of social constructs, organizational processes, politics, history and probably magic. It’s complicated. It is also inconvenient, particularly when you really want and need people to focus on deplorable class conditions. So we like to sometimes ignore it. We do so to our peril.

When we obscure those meaningful differences we end up counseling black students considering graduate school that it is a waste of time and money. We do that because our class consciousness says this whole pyramid hierarchy is a scheme and those at the bottom are losing.

The thing with losing is there’s always some construct of what constitutes “winning”. The dominant construct of winning is rooted in privilege and biases.

Winning is different for different folks. I think of Boudon‘s work which I likely oversimplify when I call it a cross-sectional, longitudinal, empirical analysis that conludes that we’re always from where we’re from. Apologies to the philosopher Rakim but sometimes it ain’t where you’re at but is indeed all about where you’re from. Part of Boudon’s argument for me is about social distance being as important to understanding mobility as status occupational/income/prestige outcomes. Basically, if I get a master’s degree that increases my labor value to $45,000* it can sound like crap to a person who went to graduate school, got a PhD and earns $50,000. However, if my parents didn’t have their GEDs and I grew up helping my mom clean banks after hours for her janitorial freelance business — one of her three jobs — I have actually traveled quite a bit of social distance. That can make the value of my graduate degree different than the value of yours.

There’s a comforting-to-white-people fiction about racism and racial inequality in the United States today: They’re caused by a small, recalcitrant group who cling to their egregiously inaccurate beliefs in the moral, intellectual and economic superiority of white people.

The reality: racism and racial inequality aren’t just supported by old ideas, unfounded group esteem or intentional efforts to mistreat others, said Nancy DiTomaso, author of the new book, The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism. They’re also based on privilege, she said — how it is shared, how opportunities are hoarded and how most white Americans think their career and economic advantages have been entirely earned, not passed down or parceled out.

The way that whites, often unconsciously, hoard and distribute advantage inside their almost all white networks of family and friends is one of the driving reasons that in February just 6.8 percent of white workers remained unemployed while 13.8 percent of black workers and 9.6 percent of Hispanic workers were unable to find jobs, DiTomaso said

DiTomaso concludes, based on her research, that most white Americans engage, at least a few times per year, in the activities that foster inequality. While they may not deliberately discriminate against black and other non-white job seekers, they take actions that make it more likely that white people will be employed — without thinking that what they’re doing amounts to discrimination.

"The vast majority assumed everyone has the same opportunities, and they just somehow tried harder, were smarter," DiTomaso said of those she interviewed. "Not seeing how whites help other whites as the primary way that inequality gets reproduced today is very helpful. It’s easy on the mind."

So white Americans tell a neighbor’s son about a job, hire a friend’s daughter, carry the resume of a friend (or, for that matter, a friend’s boyfriend’s sister) into the boss’s office, recommend an old school mate or co-worker for an unadvertised opening, or just say great things about that job applicant whom they happen to know. But since most Americans, white and black, live virtually segregated lives, and since advantages, privileges and economic progress have already accrued in favor of whites, the additional advantages that flow from this help go almost exclusively to whites, DiTomaso said.

DiTomaso’s work does confirm that networks — not just the kind you build over awkward conversations, finger foods and watered-down cocktails but the kind you’re born into — matter, Austin said. It also points to just how different forms of inequality feed one another. Family-and-friends segregation feeds job and income inequality. That in turn feeds neighborhood and school segregation. That then leaves some kids less likely to receive a quality education and escape from the cycle, he said.

It’s not that black workers don’t attempt the same sort of job assists within their own networks, said Deirdre Royster, an economic sociologist at New York University and author of Race and the Invisible Hand: How White Networks Exclude Black Men From Blue Collar Jobs.

African Americans ask neighbors, significant others, the significant others of neighbors, relatives and friends about open jobs, too. But since black unemployment rates were far higher than white rates before, during and after the recession, the number of people in a typical black social network who are in a position to help is far more limited.

According to Royster, there’s an additional twist: When blacks are aware of a job, they describe the job, the boss, the company and its preferences and needs. Then they follow up with a warning.

"They give the person looking for a job all sorts of information and then they say, ‘But don’t tell them I sent you,’" said Royster.

Black workers are aware of something that researchers are still trying to explain: White bosses often worry, lack of statistical evidence aside, that black workers are more likely to sue them or band together in the workplace and try to change things, Royster said. That seems all the more likely if the black workers already know one another, she said. And many white hiring managers still assume, consciously or unconsciously, that black workers bring undesirable workplace habits and qualities, Royster said.

Janell Ross, “Black Unemployment Driven By White America’s Favors To Friends,” Huff Post Black Voices 3/29/13

A Tupelo [MS] woman hired earlier this month by a KFC was fired Monday after the franchise owner discovered she’s homeless.

Eunice Jasica has been staying at the Salvation Army lodge since early December after losing her job, her car and her home.

The nonprofit organization requires its residents to seek employment daily and, upon finding it, to pay for lodging and start saving for a place of their own. Jasica said she had been job hunting for months and was relieved to find work on March 11 at the KFC on North Gloster Street.

A document signed by that location’s general manager on March 12 confirms Jasica had been hired to perform “prep work” and would receive a paycheck every two weeks.

But when Jasica reported for duty Monday, franchise owner Chesley Ruff withdrew the job offer upon learning she lived at the Salvation Army.

“He told me to come back when I had an address and transportation,” Jasica recalled. “But how am I supposed to get all that without a job?”

Ruff signed a letter the same day stating he couldn’t employ her “due to concerns of lack of residence and transportation” and that she could reapply when her circumstances change.

On Thursday, though, Ruff said he’d only used the homeless excuse to protect Jasica from the real reason he declined her services: She has no prior food-prep experience and seemed too elderly to lift the 40-pound boxes involved in kitchen work.

Jasica is 59 years old and had worked 27 years as a bus driver and also did security for Bloomingdale’s. She attends classes at Itawamba Community College when she’s not job hunting.

Emily Le Coz, “Woman Fired For Being Homeless,” clarionledger.com 3/21/13

Competing images of the poor as “deserving” and “undeserving” became central components of the debate. Ultimately, the racialized nature of this imagery became a crucial resource for conservatives, who succeeded in using law and order rhetoric in their effort to mobilize the resentment of white working-class voters, many of whom felt threatened by the sudden progress of African Americans. As explained by Thomas and Mary Edsall in their insightful book _Chain Reaction_, a disproportionate share of the costs of integration and racial equality had been borne by lower- and lower-middle-class whites, who wee suddenly forced to compete on equal terms with blacks for jobs and status who lived in neighborhoods adjoining black ghettos. Their children—not the children of wealthy whites—attended schools most likely to fall under busing orders. The affluent white liberals who were pressing the legal claims of blacks and other minorities “were often sheltered, in their private lives, and largely immune to the costs of implementing minority claims.” This reality made it possible for conservatives to characterize the “liberal Democratic establishment” as being out of touch with ordinary working people—thus resolving one of the central problems facing conservatives: how to persuade poor and working-class voters to join in alliance with corporate interests and the conservative elite. By 1968, 81 percent of those responding to the Gallup Poll agreed with the statement that “law and order had broken down in this country” and the majority blamed “Negroes who start riots” and “Communists.”

Race had become, yet again, a powerful wedge, breaking up what had been a solid liberal coalition based on economic interests of the poor and the working and lower-middle classes. In the 1968 election, race eclipsed class as the organizing principle of the American politics, and by 1972, attitudes on racial issues rather than socioeconomic status were the primary determinant of voters’ political self-identification. The late 1960s and early 1970s marked the dramatic erosion in the belief among working-class whites that the condition of the poor, or those who fail to prosper, was the result of a faulty economic system that needed to be challenged. As the Edsalls explain, “the pitting of whites and blacks at the low end of the income distribution against each other intensified the view among many whites that the condition of life for the disavantaged—particularly for disadvantaged blacks—is the responsibility of those afflicted, and not the responsibility of the larger society. Just as race had been used at the turn of the century by Southern elites to rupture class solidarity at the bottom of the income ladder, race as a national issue had broken up the Democratic New Deal “bottom-up” coalition—a coalition dependent on substantial support form all voters, white and black, at or below the median income.

I did what Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, encourages women to do in her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. In a self-proclaimed feminist movement to address current gender disparities in leadership, Sandberg aims to galvanize women with a call to action to lean in and step up in the workplace.

I did step up. I leaned in at staff team meetings, sat at the table and contributed to the dialogue. I explored and pursued research opportunities. I asked for mentorship. I scheduled meetings with key players, and asked for their support and guidance in moving my research career forward.

But leaning in has its limitations for women in the workplace, and especially for Latinas.

When Latinas lean in at work, they are often examined through a lens blurred with ethnic prejudices, and socially prescribed roles and expectations. God forbid she has a Spanish accent…

More than once, a lost patient or hospital staff wandering down the hall came to my office door to ask for direction. “Are you the secretary?” they would ask. “No, I’m Dr. Perez, how can I help you?” I’d reply. My title was often met by a subtle facial expression of surprise.

My bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and Ph.D. has raised questions on the role that affirmative action must have played in my academic achievements. In her memoir, Justice Sonia Sotomayor describes a moment when her academic merits were credited to affirmative action, despite graduating summa cum laude from Princeton University. This perpetual attribution of Latinas’ achievements to tokenism is real in the workplace, and underestimates what accomplished Latinas bring to the table.

An assertive Latina at work risks being seen as “difficult” or “opinionated.” A confident voice level makes her “confrontational” or “loud.” We are expected to be nice and supportive, and less so leaders. These social perceptions and ethnic biases form an important part of the organizational barriers that women, and especially ethnic/racial women, face in the workplace. This, of course, is in addition to the organizational culture and policies that are blatantly gender biased when it comes to promoting women leadership.

You may prefer to simply avoid all the arguing, especially since it’s over a bunch of lies. If so, allow me to share. The video is of some really angry guys in an argument with the Senator because, in spite of McCain’s pandering to white nationalism in ads that promise he’ll “complete the dang fence,” undocumented immigrants, at least according to said angry gentlemen, keep coming, and they’re coming to steal valuable benefits like welfare, social security, and medicaid.

The argument should serve as a demonstration of why Republicans should avoid inviting unwanted guests to their (Grand Old) party just because they’re short on the political equivalent of green bean casserole and artichoke dip. Once invited, it’s hard to get them to leave. In fact, since they’re not really there to make friends, they have nothing to lose in taking over the joint.

But while I found McCain’s frustrated reaction mildly amusing, I was much more interested in this town hall argument as a strong example of the irrationality of racism.

The angry guys attended the meeting to give Senator McCain a hard time. And why? First, they want a fence and tougher enforcement. Senator McCain, at least according to his own report, won $600 million in appropriations in order to build a section of fence (or maybe it’s a banana). But they want more because they believe a flood of immigrants is still coming over the border.

The reality, as I’m guessing you know, is that this isn’t true. Net immigration from Mexico is about zero at the moment mainly because of our bad economy. The lack of jobs in the U.S. is what’s keeping Mexican workers at home where, I’m guessing, it’s easier to be unemployed in a place where you’re not being demonized and persecuted.

The fact that workers are staying home in Mexico should tip us off to an obvious fact about Mexican undocumented immigration into the U.S. That is, that undocumented immigrants aren’t coming to get “stuff.” They’re coming to work.

Scot Nakagawa, “McCain’s War,” changelab.com 2/22/13